Express 4 Demands Activation

cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

Hi all,

I've been happily using Express 4 for months now.  All of a sudden it demands activation, or should I say, RE-activation.

Yesterday I tried to run Hitfilm from a backup drive, that's when the activation demand first appeared.  I didn't worry about it, figuring Hitfilm was only approved for one specific hard drive.

But now it won't run on my main hard drive either, the very same one I've been using for months.  A dialog comes up suggesting I deactivate this drive, which um, makes no sense at all given that I wish to do the exact opposite. 

Before I make things worse I thought I'd ask for advice.

A constructive suggestion.  Manage the relationship between the free and paid versions in the same way as everybody else on the Internet.   Nobody else that I'm aware of (25 years of software use) requires a serial number and activation for free software.  That always happens at the point when one wishes to upgrade to the full featured paid version.

The whole point of free software is to pull users in to your realm.  But at the moment I can neither upgrade to Hitfilm 2017, nor use Hitfilm 4, thanks to all this excessive security.  How many other people arrive at one of these unnecessary roadblocks and then quietly vanish never to be seen again?

Ok, that's my rant.  Thanks for further instructions.



  • kevin_nkevin_n Website User Posts: 1,923 Enthusiast
    edited February 2018

    Is there a specific reason why you're not using HitFilm Express 2017?

    Download, install & activation is a very straightforward process.

    Check out

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    Hitfilm Express, while free, does, of course, have a single computer license. Some sort of registration process is needed. Additionally, Express has the add-on packs, which are paid, and tied into the Express license. Given that, there are certainly reasons FXHOME decided to require registration on initial download.

    In the meantime, go up to the Menu at the top right of this page and select your Account Page. From there you can deactivate your current installation and will be able to re-activate. You can also get your serial number from there as well as redownload the Hitfilm installer.

    Otherwise, as CNK notes, there's a newer, substantially more powerful version of Hitfilm Express available. Downloading and registering that with the same email adress you used to download 4 Express means any add-ons purchased would automatically carry over into the new version without having to buy them again.

    As I said, there are several reasons FXHOME has one register that have nothing to do with security. Incidentally, if one upgraded from Express to Pro, one would get a discount to Pro based on Express add-ons purchased. This, of course, requires (again) some sort of registration process. :-)


  • cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    Yes, there's a reason why I'm not using Hitfilm 2017.  I was able to download it after fighting my way through the convoluted sales presentation (I had to start a thread here just to find the download link), but I was unable to activate Hitfilm 2017 because, as best I can tell, the needed email with serial number was never sent.  Sorry to argue, but download, install & activation is NOT a very straightforward process.   On no other site do I have to seek support to download and install software.  No other site.  Just Hitfilm.

    Ok, so I have to deactivate the drive that was already activated so that I can activate it again.  Thank you for confirming that.  Much appreciated.  This forum has been the essential ingredient to my Hitfilm experience, and that has to be added here in fairness.

    I bow to you guys in terms of video experience, but I've been doing Net biz since before some of you were born, and I can assure you with great confidence that complications are the enemy of sales.  As example, I would already have purchased add-ons, except that they require the 2017 version, which can not be activated, and thus I decided to forget about buying things (for now).  The price for add-ons is no problem, very reasonable, but the hassle is a deal killer.

  • cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    Here's what it says within my account:


    HitFilm 4 Express
    Status : enabled

    Computer: writings-iMac.local,
    activated on 22/03/2017 deactivate


    So you're saying I should ignore what my account interface is reporting, right? 

    PS: I tested Hitfilm in another user account just to double check, also deactivated.



  • CleverTaglineCleverTagline Moderator Las Vegas, NVModerator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,036 Ambassador

    @PhilTanny Also on your Account page you should see the serial number for HitFilm Express 2017.  Is that not there?

  • inScapeDigitalinScapeDigital Website User Posts: 715 Just Starting Out

    @PhilTanny Did you follow Aladdin4D's instructions on your previous thread for downloading Express 2017?

  • cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    @jsbarrett, hi there, thanks for replying.  

    No mention of version 2017 anywhere in my account.  I was able to download and install 2017, but not activate it, so perhaps that explains why it's not just listed in my account?

    If anyone would like to offer advice on how I should proceed with 2017, happy to hear your thoughts.

    As best I can tell from this experience, if you try to run Hitfilm from an unauthorized drive it automatically deactivates that copy of Hitfilm, and then it won't run on any drive.   As best I can tell, Hitfilm authorizes a particular hard drive, and not the particular computer. 

    What I did yesterday was try to run Hitfilm from a backup drive connected to the iMac, whereas usually I'm running Hitfilm from the internal drive in the iMac.  That's when this issue began.

    I could be wrong about all this obviously, but so far that's what it looks like from here.


  • cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    @inScapeDigital, no, I don't think so, I got tired of the hassle and went back to work in Express 4, which I should add I'm very happy with. 

    Another layer of obstacle is that I don't really understand the difference between the two versions and how the difference might affect what I'm working on, and thus my motivation to fight my way to the 2017 version is modest.  If anyone would like to discuss how the 2017 version upgrades the composite section of Hitfilm your comments would be welcome.

  • cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    @inScapeDigital, in returning to review Alladin's suggestions again I now recall why I didn't continue with them.  They don't work.  Once you dismiss the share page as he suggests, you're taken back to another sales page. 

    Here's how it works on every other software site.

    1) you download the demo.

    2) if you want to upgrade the demo to the full version you buy a serial number and enter it in to the already installed software.

    Two steps.  

    There's a  reason why everybody else does it this way.



  • CedricBonnierCedricBonnier Staff Administrator, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,189 Staff

    @PhilTanny I understand your point, however we need to know exactly how many people are using Express, even the completely free version because even though it is free for the users, it isn't free for us. I won't go into details but depending on how many people use HitFilm we will get charged by other companies a different amount. This is why each user has to activate their free license.

    Regarding having to activate again, I am not sure why this happened but rest assured that you cannot "mess up" your license. Once it is associated with your account, it is yours to keep forever. You can deactivate manually, remove the license file on disk, format your computer and then reinstall HitFilm and you will still be able to activate your license.

    Saying that, it doesn't mean that the process cannot be improved. We tried to make it as easy as possible but if you are having trouble you can always contact support to get some help.

    I hope this helps, here are some links that should guide you through each step of the process:

  • cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    Hi Cedric, thanks for your explanation.  That does help.  I'm sure there's more to it than I understand.

    I am now re-activated, so the hysterical existential end of the world crisis seems to have passed.  I apologize for complaining and the free unsolicited advice.  You guys are doing far more for me than I am doing in return, and that's the bottom line I should keep more in mind. 

    If you care to share, how connected are your servers and an installation of Hitfilm?  Are Hitfilm installs calling home to the server?  If the servers went down, does that create a problem for the installed software?  I'm asking in part as a someday prospective Hitfilm Pro purchaser.  I'm wondering things like, what would happen to my copy of Hitfilm Pro if say, you guys went out of business?  Not an urgent question, just curious.

  • CleverTaglineCleverTagline Moderator Las Vegas, NVModerator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,036 Ambassador

    @PhilTannyOne way to test this is to disconnect your computer from the 'net, then run HitFilm.  HitFilm obviously does a server check for new versions, and there may be some kind of license check in there, but I don't believe it that it bricks the program if it can't connect to the server, which would be the ultimate result if FXHOME went belly up.

  • JMcAllisterJMcAllister Website User Posts: 599 Just Starting Out

    @PhilTanny my preliminary research on the HitFilm activation app, (late last year I was trying to hack it to run in Linux) showed that the license file is generated by the server, but stored locally on your machine. As long as that file is valid on that machine and is in the right place, HitFilm will remain activated regardless of whether the activation app can connect to the HitFilm server.

  • DanielGWoodDanielGWood Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,021 Just Starting Out
    edited March 2018

    We officially support "offline activation", which is designed for people without an internet connection on their editing machine. In that scenario one activates via the website, getting a license file and copying it to the machine via some other means - a USB key perhaps.

    A corollary of this is that if FXHOME suddenly disappeared (transferred to the moon by space rhinos) or our servers went down (slightly more likely), anyone who has already activated would remain activated. It wouldn't be possible to activate any new software, or to reactivate on a different computer, but that is to be expected.

    Edit: Regarding Express 2017

    @PhilTanny I've checked through our databases, and can't find a record of you having requested a license for HitFilm Express 2017, though I can see the one for Express 4. This normally occurs when you fill out the "Get HitFilm Express Free" form and either create an account or sign in (see I could be looking under the wrong email address of course. If you could contact us in Support with any email address you might have used, I would be pleased to look into what went wrong there.

  • PalaconoPalacono Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,442 Enthusiast

    Hitfilm and the Plugins call home every time they are used, but probably just checking for possible updates. I have Zone Alarm on and they don't have any permissions to do so and I randomly allow them to call, or not, just to see if there is a difference. After initial activation they always work, so should continue to if/when FXHome move to the moon.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    @Palacono an update check for both and the Home Screen tiles in Hitfilm. 

  • BatvinkBatvink Website User Posts: 56 Just Starting Out

    Just to add to the registration debate as it is a very interesting one and I don't think there is a right answer...

    Registering free software is very normal for technical software. I use developer platforms, database platforms, and creative platforms, all of which require registration.

    I would argue that not requiring a serial number is the enemy of sales. Anyone who really wants to use the software will register it. Anyone who refuses to register is extremely unlikely to become an engaged user, contribute to the community or upgrade in the future. Hitfilm has an active user base for which I am thankful.

    Good luck with the software, I'm a relative newcomer to HitFilm and already loving it.


  • cluelessnubecluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    Yes, I didn't want to come right out and say it, but that's what I'm worried about, FXhome being transferred to the moon by space rhinos.  I mean, obviously this could happen without warning at any moment!!!!

    Seriously, let's imagine that...

    1) I'd purchased Hitfilm Pro...

    2) Space rhinos abduct FXhome etc...

    3) And I do what I did the other day, launch Hitfilm from an unauthorized drive.

    Would my copy of Hitfilm Pro then be dead?  

    Put another way, do buyers really actually no kidding own and control Hitfilm Pro without dependence upon anything or anybody else?  Or is the buyer dependent upon an ongoing relationship with the seller?

    @DanielGWood, you wrote...

    "It wouldn't be possible to activate any new software, or to reactivate on a different computer, but that is to be expected."

    I just had to reactivate on the SAME computer (the only one I've ever used for Hitfilm), and it FXhome had been eaten by space rhinos (OMG! OMG!) I wouldn't have been able to reactivate, ie. my Hitfilm would have been dead.   Well, I could edit but not export.

    In my case I'm still using the free version, so easy come easy go.  But what if I'd paid $300 plus add-ons etc?

    I'm making a philosophical point I guess.  There's a value in doing things the way everybody else does it because then users find the environment they expect and understand. 

    When it comes to software, it seems what most users expect and understand is that they give the seller money, the seller gives them a serial number, and then the transaction is permanently completed, period.

    It seems to me that's mostly what sales is, removing obstacles to the desired transaction.  This forum is a good example.  It demonstrates to prospects that if they have a question they'll be able to get an answer, and so that worry is removed as a sales obstacle. 


  • DanielGWoodDanielGWood Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,021 Just Starting Out

    It's worth noting before we go any further, that we still support activating software which came out long before the first version of HitFilm. Assuming you still have suitable hardware and an operating system, it's possible to activate our Lab range from 2009, and I believe it's also possible to activate the first FXHOME products from 2001 (though I don't myself have licenses for these programs). We take care to ensure products customers paid for even a very long time ago continue to be activate-able.

    Regarding licensing, our license and the terms are public for everyone to read.

    The majority of software produced in the last 15 years does have to contact a server at some point to verify the serial is valid (exists, isn't refunded, hasn't been transferred to another user, etc). That's the part which would no longer work, and that's what I was referring to. Almost everything else could be removed from the equation, but that check is fundamental. So in that respect, we are doing things the same way as everyone else.

    It's an incredibly unlikely scenario though! I can't imagine a scenario where FXHOME would disappear and abandon customers like that, and it's not the kind of place I'd be willing to work.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

     @PhilTanny I think you misunderstood one of the steps I laid out in your other thread. I think you were dismissing the share page without choosing one of the sharing options. Doing that will take you back to a sales page. You need to choose one of the sharing options instead of dismissing the page. Choosing one will open a whole new browser window. This new window is what you dismiss. After you dismiss it you'll see the create account/login page I described. 

This discussion has been closed.